Papilio - Giant Artworks On Scaffolding Wraps Emerge To Celebrate Selby's Unique Heritage

S is for Smashing, Spectacular, Special and Selby
June 8, 2023

Head to Selby and you'll see BEAUTIFUL scaffolding wrapped buildings are emerging in the heart of the North Yorkshire town to celebrate its rich and unique heritage as part of Selby Stories.

The stunningly beautiful but purposely fleeting and transient wraps have been designed by artist Ed Kluz to look like tumbling swags of cloth for the art installations – titled Papilio.

Papilio is Medieval Latin for ‘tent’ or ‘butterfly’ and the wraps will continue to emerge over the coming weeks on scaffolding for historic buildings being restored and improved thanks to grants in Selby’s Heritage High Street Action Zone.

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme is a multi-million pound fund launched in 2019 by Historic England to champion and revive historic high streets. Selby is one of more than 60 high streets in the country to receive a share of funding from Historic England, along with funding from North Yorkshire Council. Selby Stories is the cultural programme for the HSHAZ – innovative events and art projects running until the end of 2023 celebrating the town, its history and what makes Selby special.

Finkle Street

The wraps have been digitally printed to look like giant tumbling folds of cloth and the tent-like structure was inspired by the historic markets, fairs and festivals which have long been part of Selby’s history. The plant motifs on the drapes draw on the origin stories of Selby Abbey – the return to the fertile wilderness that the Abbey’s founder, Benedict, encountered when he arrived in the late 11th Century. They also echo the beautiful Medieval foliate carvings found in stone and wood within the Abbey building.

Creating the designs was a true labour of love – with Ed collecting real plants and shoots from around the Abbey and using modern photographic techniques to capture their forms in minute detail. Digital manipulation was then used to create repeat patterns which were printed onto real fabric and arranged into a large scale installation that was then photographed to create the final images for reproduction on the wraps.

Ed comments: “My starting point was to sift through the early history of the town and the Abbey at its centre. I wanted to identify where its spirit of place might lie and pinpoint a visual symbolism which threads through its history to the present day.

"The project coincided with the very first shoots of spring and I gathered sprigs of the native wild plants that grow around the Abbey – including yarrow, hedge garlic, wild chervil, hemlock, wood avens, ragwort and wood sorrel.

"The plant motifs echo the intricate Medieval carvings of writhing foliage found in the abbey today and nod towards its origin story. The cloth seems to swaddle the buildings as restorative and regenerative works are undertaken underneath and represents the return of the wilderness, albeit in a theatrical form, to the town.”

North Yorkshire Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Simon Myers said: “This is a unique piece of artwork drawing on stories relating to the origin of Selby. I urge people from across the county to take a look when they can – the wraps will only be there as long as the scaffolding is around the buildings so catch them while you can.”

Jane Jackson from Historic England said: “We’re really pleased to be supporting this wonderful art project through the High Street Heritage Action Zone. Scaffolding is usually a bit of an eyesore but Ed Klutz’s vibrant wraps are transforming it into something beautiful and thought provoking.”

22 Finkle Street is the first building to be covered and a further two buildings will follow. The artworks will only remain whilst the scaffolding is on site and will be removed once the restoration work on each building is complete. Catch them whilst you can.

The full Selby Stories programme is available HERE